Wickr Plans To Hide Encrypted Photos In Plain Sight On Facebook

On Tuesday, Wickr launched a new feature called Wickr Timed Feed (WTF). WTF adds a social media element to the messaging app that lets users share photos in a social stream with up to 151 friends on Wickr. The posts will stick around for 24 hours before self-destructing itself, and users can decorate the photos with stickers before posting as well as pick exactly who can see the photos.

"In the simplest sense, it's an Instagram killer," says Wickr CEO Nico Sell.

It would be amazing if Instagram's approximately 300 million users cared as much about privacy as the roughly 5 million people in 196 countries who have downloaded Wickr. "It's not meant for public posts," Sell states. "This is all about private sharing with the people you trust who are closest to you."

Wickr Plans To Hide Encrypted Photos In Plain Sight On Facebook

In addition to the Timed Feed, Wickr is attempting to make privacy popular to the masses through an integration with Facebook's API. When a user uploads photos to WTF, a prompt will appear, asking if the user would like to secretly share the photo to Facebook using a "decoy image." If the user agrees, Wickr will post a photo of a cat on Facebook. The only people who will see the actual image are fellow Wickr users who can click on the cat and redirect to Wickr to view the original image (if it's been shared with them). "You can't see the picture unless you have the key," Sell says. "And that's what Wickr is at the heart, a key management system."

Why cats? The choice is inspired by the spy technique Wickr is emulating with this integration-steganography, or hiding messages in plain sight. "Right now there's two main ways spies conceal messages on the internet-through cats because they are the most popular images on the internet," Sell says.

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Sell is unsure how Facebook will react to Wickr's integration after the launch. Wickr applied and easily received approval for the integration, but the application didn't require detailing its plans to use steganography. Sell thinks the integration should be positive for Facebook as it allows users who were previously uncomfortable with Facebook's privacy settings to securely share photos.

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